For disclaimer and notes, please see part one.

Previously, on the West Wing: Crystal, Teddy, and Rose take cover until the bombing subsides while tempers flare in the West Wing. When the CIA agents prepare to leave, Pakistani troops come by to force their hand. Josh tries to deal with his feelings.

~

Teddy stopped the jeep a couple miles from the boarder per Crystal's order. "Why'd we stop?" he asked.

"If we don't have an agent on the boarder waiting on us, we're gonna have fun crossing," said Crystal. She jumped out of the back of the jeep and quietly crept around the car. The jeep had been fully equipped with binoculars. She lifted them to take a look. She focused them and scanned the immediate area. Sighing, she looked at Teddy and Rose.

"How are we getting across?" asked Rose.

"I'm going to run distraction. Teddy, you've got to get Rose across safely. You know where the nearest local headquarters is?" He shook his head. "I'll draw you a map," she said as she tossed the binoculars back in the jeep. She found a scrap sheet of paper and a pen and started to draw.

"What are you going to do, ma'am?" asked Teddy.

"I'm going to get the two of you across the boarder."

"Aren't you coming too?" Rose asked.

"Yeah," Crystal said. "Just not the same way y'all are, I'm afraid." Rose looked at her curiously. "I know enough Chinese to get around," Crystal explained. "Teddy probably can't read it let alone know what anybody'd tell him. I'm gonna send y'all in the right direction to the nearest HQ then I'm gonna do the best I can to get myself home."

"Won't you go to the same base?" she asked.

"Depends," said Crystal. "If I get detained, and I probably will be, I may be delayed for a day or two... or six. But your job ain't to worry about me," she was quick to add. "It's to live long enough to retire from the Company. Being a techie, you have an excellent shot at making it. Field operators like me and Teddy, here, that's a whole other kettle of fish." Crystal realized her accent was more pronounced and she was throwing out southern expressions like there was no tomorrow. She knew she was exhausted and her accent proved it. She was going to have to watch that when she reached the boarder guards. "Here," she said, handing the crude map to Teddy. She glanced at Rose. "We shoulda kept a couple walkie-talkies with programmed Company frequencies."

"Oh well."

"Yeah," Crystal said before explaining the map to Teddy. Once she was certain Teddy was okay with the map, she loaded them into the back of the jeep and started for the boarder. As they neared the guards, Rose and Teddy held onto the back of the jeep, keeping their heads down. Crystal tore the patches and pins off her Pakistani uniform as she drove. When she reached the boarder, she eased to a stop, allowing Rose and Teddy to drop to the pavement and roll over to the wooded brush to the side of the road. Crystal cleared her throat as two armed guards approached her. Smiling, she told them hello in German.

"Passport," demanded the first Chinese guard.

"Excuse me?" she asked sweetly in German. The guards exchanged glances. They motioned her out of the jeep. She did so hesitantly and followed them towards the tiny office, listening to them talk.

"She's wearing a Pakistani uniform," said one.

"She doesn't look Pakistani."

"Doesn't mean anything."

"If she were Pakistani, she would have gone to New Delhi. We've got nothing against the Pakistanis right now."

"Right now, sure." Crystal glanced over her shoulder, watching as Teddy and Rose slipped unnoticed across the boarder. Smiling faintly, she returned her attention to the guards as they entered the office.

"English?" asked one. Crystal's smile grew.

"German?" The guards were obviously in no mood to play. One held his gun on her as the other searched her person, coming up empty.

"Check her jeep." The guard who had just searched Crystal sighed and left the small office to go over her jeep. "Sit," he said, gesturing to the chair. Crystal sat down. For a moment she felt twenty-something again. She could not remember the last time she had been interrogated. To her, the whole situation was laughable, especially since she was so punchy due to her extreme lack of sleep. She leaned back in the chair, propping her feet up on the small metal table in front of her. Bring it on, she thought to herself.

~~~

Mallory dashed through the halls of the West Wing to her father's office. She did not bother to stop and clear it through Margaret; she simply waltzed into Leo's office. "Dad?"

"Mallory. What are you doing here so early? Shouldn't you have school-"

"It's Saturday, Dad," she said.

"I knew that," Leo said.

"Are you okay?" she asked.

"We're in the middle of a war, Mal. I don't know."

"Speaking of war," Mal began, "and what you told me last night about Crystal, I've been trying to get in touch with Sam ever since."

"And?"

"His phone was busy all last night. He must've taken it off the hook. Plus, his cell phone has been off. I stopped by his apartment. Either he wasn't there or he wasn't answering his door."

"Well, baby, he hasn't called in. I wouldn't be surprised if he's here already."

"He's not. Cathy hasn't heard from him."

"Is Josh here?" asked Leo. Mal shrugged. "Go find out. I'll talk to Toby." Mal nodded and dutifully ran off. She found Donna waiting in Josh's office, looking out his window.

"Donna?" She turned slowly.

"Oh. Morning, Mallory."

"I take it Josh isn't here?" Donna shook her head.

"You've heard about Crystal?" Mal nodded. "It's terrible," Donna said. "It's just horrible."

"Have you heard from Josh yet?"

"No."

"What about Sam?" She shook her head again. "Great," muttered Mal sarcastically.

"What's going on?"

"I haven't heard from Sam since..."

"I'm sure he's in shock. Josh, too."

"Mal," Leo said from behind her. She spun on her heel to look at her father. "Nobody's heard a word. Where's Josh?" Mal shrugged as Donna picked up Josh's phone and dialed his home number. His answering machine picked up.

"I'm not in. You know what to do." Donna waited for the beep.

"Josh, pick up," she said. "I know you're there. Please, pick up... Okay, if you don't pick up, call us back and tell us where Sam is. Is he with you?"

"What about Sam?" asked Josh, quickly answering the phone. He had felt totally dead, not to mention hung-over, until he heard that there might be a problem with Sam.

"Josh-" Mal motioned for the phone. "Hold on, Josh. Here's Mal." Mal took the phone quickly.

"Have you seen or heard from Sam since yesterday?"

"No, why?" asked Josh.

"He won't answer his phone. I tried his apartment. He's not here. Where would he go?" Josh hated searching his memory for any clue that Crystal or even Sam himself might have slipped to him about where Sam would go if he were ever depressed. He was coming up empty; all his recollections were jumbled.

"I-I don't know," he said.

"You've got to help me find him, Josh."

"Mal, I don't know how much help I can be right now." His self-esteem was still at rock bottom. His head was fuzzy.

"Josh, if he won't talk to me, surely he'll talk to you." Josh closed his eyes tightly.

"Tell Leo I'm taking the day."

"I will," Mal said. "I'll be right over."

"'Kay," he said weakly, hanging up the phone.

~~~

Sam was no better off after reading his letter. As in Josh's, Crystal had apologized and begged for forgiveness, promising she would be home soon. He had called his parents to inform them of what was going on and left the job of notifying Crystal's parents to his dad. He did not want to be around anyone else; rather, he wanted to sit in front of his window and look out at the night sky. When they were young, Sam and Crystal used to sit on the roof of his childhood L.A. home and watch the ocean and the city. They would talk about nothing in particular as they watched people cruise and the waves crash on the sand. He missed those simple summers, where nothing was planned or scheduled. They always seemed so long until the very last day, when Crystal would have to get on the plane to fly home. Every time she would cry but tell Sam that she would be back before he knew it. This time, though, she wouldn't be coming back. This time their separation was permanent.

At that moment, he would have traded anything to be ten years old again and waiting eagerly for the plane to touchdown from D.C. Crystal always had fun stories to tell and wild adventures to recount. Her smile was nearly perpetual, not to mention infectious, and her laughter could always make his heart soar. But now she was gone. She would never brighten up another of his days. He felt as though his heart had been thoroughly destroyed.

He must have sat at his window all night because by the time he looked at his watch again, it was morning. He had no desire to go to work and was sure that Leo would send him home if he bothered to show up. Moving slowly, he stumbled around his apartment to change clothes then found himself wandering around the city. Before he realized it, he was sitting on the banks of the Potomac, watching the water flow past him, so calm, so serene. He halfway wondered what it would be like to drift with the water, just float off into nothingness. He imagined it would be relatively peaceful and comforting.

~~~

Josh answered his door when Mal knocked. "You look terrible."

"Thanks," he said. "Come in for a minute. I don't remember what I did with my shoes."

"I can see that," Mal said, looking around in amazement. In a drunken rage during the night, he had practically turned his apartment upside down. "Are you, um..."

"I'm dealing with it," Josh said, lifting a chair to look under it.

"I'm sorry about Crystal. I miss her, too."

"Yeah, well," he said. "There's not a *damn* thing any of us can do about it now, is there?" Mal was taken aback at his snapping at her. Josh closed his eyes then looked at her. "I'm sorry, Mal. I just..."

"No, hey," she said. "I understand."

"I thought about calling Sam last night," he said, coming up with his tie from the night before. "I guess I should have." Mal aided in his search.

"It wouldn't have done any good," she said. "I tried all night and never got a hold of him."

"I honestly don't know where he would've gone, Mal."

"He told me he came to Washington once, when he was just out of high school, to visit Crystal."

"Yeah," Josh said, sitting on the floor. "I've heard that story, too." The thought of Crystal's father hurting her made his blood boil, even if she was dead.

"When they ran... Wasn't there some park they went to?"

"Yeah," Josh said, standing up. "Outside Arlington, I think." Mal pulled one of his loafers out of a potted houseplant and tossed it to him. "Thanks." He slipped on the shoe and went into his kitchen. "I could use some coffee before we start this. Do you?"

"I just want to go."

"Yeah," Josh said. "OJ for the road it is." He opened his refrigerator door and found his other shoe. Grabbing for a pint of orange juice, he put the cold shoe on. He had not expected such a shock out of the cold shoe as he followed Mal out of his apartment. "You are going to drive, aren't you?"

~~~

Conrad hung up Mrs. Landingham's telephone. "Thanks so much, Mrs. Landingham." The old secretary nodded as Charlie emerged from the Oval Office.

"The President will see you now."

"Thanks," Conrad said before charging into the Oval. Bartlet and Leo were standing near his desk. "Sir."

"What do you have for us now, Rob?" Bartlet asked.

"I just got off the phone with an agent, Rose Parker. She was with Crystal in India."

"And?" Bartlet asked.

"Apparently she survived the bombing." Bartlet and Leo both heaved a sigh of relief. "But..."

"Oh, God," Bartlet said.

"She was apprehended on the Chinese boarder."

"Get her out then," Bartlet said.

"I intend to, sir, if..."

"If what?" asked Leo.

"Well, she was wearing a Pakistani uniform."

"Why?" Bartlet and Leo asked simultaneously.

"To not be stopped by the Pakistanis. However, if the Chinese saw her in the Pakistani uniform..." Bartlet looked at Leo.

"Let's keep this from Sam and Josh, " said Bartlet.

"Well, we should have no trouble keeping it from Sam seeing as how Mallory and Josh have yet to find him."

"Well, this day keeps getting better and better," Bartlet said. He turned his attention back to Conrad.

"Find out what happened."

"Yes, sir."

"And call me immediately."

"Yes, sir." Bartlet closed his eyes as Conrad left.

"Are we anywhere on negotiations?" Bartlet asked Leo.

"I'll go find his lordship."

~~~

Crystal was still running three hours after having left the military instillation miles inside the Chinese boarder. She had figured all her trips down the halls of the West Wing, Langley headquarters, and Capital Hill corridors would keep her in shape. With numbness in her legs and soreness in her side, she realized just how wrong she had been. She vowed to do more exercise when she got home. At the moment, she had to focus on getting out of China in one piece. She thought her eyes were playing tricks on her as the house came into view. With new determination, she sped on, not stopping until she reached the front door. She knocked, out of breath. The door opened and a petite Chinese woman appeared.

"Can I-" She stopped in mid sentence, looking at the fatigued Crystal. "Crystal! What are you-" She shook her head. "Come inside, come inside," she coaxed.

"Thanks, Lian," Crystal said weakly as Lian helped her into the quaint home.

"In all my days, I never thought I'd see you again, Crystal."

"Well," Crystal said as Lian, a contact Crystal had had for years, guided her to a chair, "I wasn't counting on it either."

"What are you doing here?"

"Trying to outrun the authorities," Crystal said. "What else would I be doing?"

"Let me make some tea."

"Don't worry about it," Crystal said. "I just. Give me a minute to rest and I'll be out of your hair. I don't want to inconvenience you."

"You crazy American," Lian said. "Always with the same ideas. I get into trouble with the government on my own, thank you very much." She wandered into the adjacent kitchen. "Water?"

"Please."

"So, what is it this time? Spying on the President?"

"No," Crystal said, holding her sore side. "I just came from India." Lian looked at her quickly.

"That explains the Pakistani uniform," Lian said.

"I need a way home."

"Why aren't you at the nearest CIA post?"

"Seventy-five miles south? I don't want to run that far," she said.

"You know I don't have a phone," Lian said.

"I know. That's not what I'm here for. I'm going to find the next airstrip and steal a plane, probably. I have to get home."

"Why? You leave the oven on?" Lian asked with a smirk. Crystal laughed.

"Something like that. I know there are going to be two really pissed off guys when I go home. As much as I know they're going to yell at me, I need to see them again." Lian handed her the glass and Crystal took a grateful sip.

"Who might they be?" Lian asked, sitting down beside her.

"Well, one is Sam. You remember me telling you about him, don't you?"

"Your cousin, sure."

"And the other. His name is Josh and I am madly in love with him." Lian smiled at her old friend.

"Details."

"He wins in the relationship longevity category."

"Oh, eight hours?"

"No," Crystal said. "A year and a few days now." Lian looked at her in shock.

"You really are serious about him?" Crystal nodded.

"God, I miss him," Crystal said, closing her eyes.

"Does he know what you do?"

"Do you know what he does?"

"Another CIA agent?"

"Worse." Lian raised an eyebrow. "White House Deputy Chief of Staff."

~~~

"We've been to all the playgrounds outside D.C. in both Virginia *and* Maryland," Mal said. "He hasn't been at any of them."

"I dunno, Mal. Maybe he's been making the loop behind us. We could try them again." She shook her head. "We even stopped at those homeless and domestic abuse shelters. He wasn't there and they *promised* they would call if Sam stumbled in there to volunteer. Somebody at the White House would have called if he had shown up there."

"I know," Mal said sadly.

"He's around here somewhere," he said gently. "It's a matter of thinking like a Seaborn." Mal looked at Josh, noticing he clipped the last syllable of the name Seaborn. He had a funny, far-off look in his eyes.

"Josh?"

"Thinking like a Seaborn..."

"Are you okay?"

"What's calming to him?" he asked.

"Sam?" Josh nodded. "Classical music... Sailing-"

"Bingo!"

"Sailing?"

"The Potomac." Mal smiled.

"You're a genius."

"If he's there, I am. C'mon."

Stay tuned...

 

 

Come Back 2 Me - 10

 

 

 

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